Wanted: a female Jordan Peterson
Toxic validation feels like a huge problem for women as well as men
Of all the things I regret in life, being born in the late 1970s is not one of them. 10 or 20 years earlier would have been better but I don’t envy those born towards the end of the millennium. Imprisoned by the panopticon of social media and the iPhone, facing impossible housing costs, climate change and living in a moral anarchy that has inevitably led to a stifling moral tyranny.
But the worst disadvantage younger generations (including mine) had compared to previous cohorts was a lack of cultural norms, and the tyranny of choice. Mary Harrington’s piece today shows how susceptible people are to memes, especially when they come with the backing of major corporations and the entertainment industry. You can be anything you want to be, we’re told — which is completely untrue.
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One of the biggest disadvantages a young person can have in life is the lack of a mentor or guide because there is so much destructive advice about, and it is so easy to ruin your life.
Much of the stuff you’ll read in lifestyle magazines is almost comically terrible, either a rationalisation on the part of someone who has themselves made terrible life choices — as journalists tend to — or the sort of advice that will most raise the status and popularity of the person giving it. Worse still is the collective opinion of social media, which amounts to toxic validation — cheering on people as they sabotage their relationships and their chances of enjoying future happiness. Again, a lot of this is people rationalising the decisions they’ve made, deeply unhappy people who want to spread unhappiness.
Jordan Peterson rose to fame because so many young men were lacking in life direction and role models in a confusing world, aggravated by the fact that so many lacked a father, and fatherly advice. (I say this as someone who had quite a distant father — it’s a huge disadvantage in life.)
Peterson was initially appealing to people who were lured by the self-pitying appeal of inceldom, and his advice was nothing new, more like the forgotten wisdom of the ages: clean your room, have some self-respect, avoid destructive people. Such small things will make a big difference to your life.
Toxic validation feels like a huge problem for women too, who are subject to some comically bad advice by the meme-generators. So, as Wesley Yang mused the other day… how come there has never been a female Jordan Peterson? Nominations now open.
I think there is nothing in Jordan Peterson that would make him an unsuitable mentor for women? I actually understand there are also a lot of women following him. The sage advice he gives people is equally useful for men and women.
I agree. We need to stop segregating. Thinking that we need a female alternative is …. sexist. Ironically. That’s not to say that I don’t think that men and women (as a group) are ‘the same’. There are physiological reasons why our natures and drivers are very different, as a generalisation.
I’m far more aggressive than most men, and I know many men who are far more passive than me. That’s the nature of generalisations… they tend to exclude the outliers. Doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful to aid our understanding though, so long as they are not ‘limiting’ e.g. used to exclude a group from an opportunity such as women firefighters. I’ve been reading Peterson to stretch myself…. I’m a bit more liberal in my views and heard that he was conservative. But actually, whilst he dances dangerously close to patriarchal cliches, he manages to avoid a head-on collision! Having said that, I suspect he moderates his public opinions to avoid criticism…. pretty sure he’d vociferously deny this! It contradicts one of his own Rules to Life! But we all do it… no matter how courageous, we modify our public truth in order to ‘fit in’ and avoid offending. As with most things we’re probably all on a ‘spectrum’ from ‘blunt honest truth always’ all the way to ‘lie to avoid conflict at all costs’.
Agree about the stop segregating comment completely.
Far from a superfan of Peterson, but I’m confident that he is very particular about what he says. I think he is not hiding anything or that he secretly has some kind of more conservative/chauvinistic agenda.
In any of the talks I have seen him (online) and in his book 12 Rules (only read first half as didn’t love it or need it myself) he is very careful and measured with his wording.
I would disagree with some of his views – for example his onus on the scriptures and religion as some kind of moral compass – but would never accuse him of being anything other than what he says he is.
What other moral compass has the profundity and practicality of the Bible which is as relevant today as it ever was?
As long as you choose the less savage bits.
But whose moral compass will you use to make that distinction ?
The savage bits generally refer to punishment for infringements not the laws themselves. Some of the laws are context and time bound, but a competent preacher/teacher could draw out the timeless spiritual principles behind those laws.
The savage bits are mostly (all?) in the Old Testament. I think Christians should distance themselves from the OT.
Christianity was never Hippies, it always has been a savage belief system. Mostly it is about how one must be full of self discipline, spiritually and physically. It is about Duty foremost. Christ had no issues with professional soldiers, he had no issues with the extreme harsh social justice system of Rome. People now days think it is Peace, but Christianity is struggle. Islam is totally, it is about Jihad, Christianity is also about every day being one you must struggle with. Duty first always. Christianity is not easy. The savage bits are needed as much as the nice bits, it is a religion of the real world.
As Ian Barton said.
There’s a lot of good in the Bible – but also a lot of bad and a lot of complete nonsense (even by the standards of the time it was written).
Good can come from religious texts, but it requires the reader to extract it. Much could be said of Shakespeare or Milton for example.
Expand a bit on what you think is bad and complete nonsense.
Shakespeare and Milton based a great deal of their work on the Bible – Milton exclusively so I think.
(the good bits are the woke bits, the bad bits are the rest)
Apostasy. The greatest Bad thing in Islam is picking and choosing one’s way through religions, That is why the Bahai would be persecuted, they assembled their religion from bits of other religions.
I do not believe you can pick and choose dogma with religion, it comes as a whole.
Liberalism is a religion, (religion = that which is of ultimate importance) and I cannot be a member of that cult as I cannot just accept the good parts and not the bad parts, if I do I become a Conservative, and not a Liberal at all.
A lot of complete ‘nonsense’? Examples?
High level nonsense that is apparent to children educated in the scriptures: life on earth being created in 6 days, talking serpents, people living to over 800 years old in c.4000 BCE, global extinction events where all creatures get in a boat after pairing off to survive, people being turned into pillars of salt for looking upon the destruction of a city (!?), parting seas, virgin births, talking bushes.
Or did those things all happen?
And that’s without going into the more specific bizarre stories and allegories that have questionable logic or value.
I agree. Lately I’ve found myself wondering whether the concept “stereotype” actually adds much value to our understanding of anything. These days it seems to function mostly to serve as an avenue of attack on anyone making any sort of generalization about any particular group of people.
Sarah, when you say that Jordan Peterson is more conservative in his views than you, I imagine you mean social conservative, not conservative in the economic sense. He’s from a country with single-payer health care and a province with a state-controlled electric power distribution system. He became famous when the Liberal government in Ontario was pushing forward highly controversial policies to dramatically hike the minimum wage, hike taxes on greenhouse gas emissions and promote a guaranteed annual income. I don’t know what his views are on any of these things, but it surely means something that he didn’t choose any of these as a hill to die on; instead his choice fell on genderless pronouns. If he’s a rock-ribbed free-market conservative like Thomas Sowell, and I suppose he could be, it isn’t something he cares to talk about. I don’t mean that in any way as a criticism. Let the cobbler stick to his last.
Indeed. Part of the point of Peterson is a rejection of identity politics; a female Peterson would be a sign of failure.
I don’t think it would; we need points of view from men and women. Would you agree that children are best off with a mother and a father?
Children are generally better off with their biological parents. We’re discussing adults here.
I woudl say that male and female are, unlike most of the categories of identity politics, fundamental in our humanity. They are not identities they are material realities. Sex has unfortunately entered the arena of identity politics, which is why it’s now under attack at a category, it’s something that very much needs to be re-grounded.
I think Jordan Peterson would disagree with you.
That’s not to say that women can’t get anything from male mentors, or vice versa. They can. But there are elements of the male and female experience that tend to differ and often it is someone of the same sex who is able to offer the most insight and useful advice. I would not, for example, tend to look to Peterson for the most insightful insight into the problems of motherhood, or of middle school girl infighting. I imagine he might say something useful about those things, but as an observer rather than someone who has faced it himself.
I agree with you. I wonder if perhaps women prefer specifically female life guidance to be shared amongst themselves, eg, with grandmothers & mothers, aunts & sisters, the works canteen, wherever different generations of women meet, rather than the kind of embattled warrior (intellectual in this case) leader that Jordan Peterson represents.
I’m a young woman who’s been following JP since he first became a public figure (arguing against bill C16). It is a myth perpetuated by his detractors on the left that he initially only appealed to incel types, although I don’t doubt his initial audience was initially majority male (due to the type of youtube channels which would speak about him – which I tend to watch).
I don’t feel I need a female JP in my life. As others have pointed out, this is a sexist view. Why are only women allowed to impart wisdom on other women?!
The biggest thing people tend to forget is that girls need fathers too. My own father is quite distant and feel that I would have benefitted greatly from some of the advice JP gives, from my own father. Perhaps my Father would benefit too!
I’ve had to learn many of these lessons later in life, the painful way and finding JP certainly eased (and continues to) ease that journey.
That’s a wise perspective – thank you.
As Peter Kriens says – there is nothing in particular about Peterson’s message that is for men only. A lot of women also follow/read him. That he gained fame for his popularity amongst men who felt lost is only part of the story.
Mainstream cultural dialogue is stuffed full of references to the empowerment of women, and a lot of time and effort is spent by people trying to bolster women across the cultural and social spectrum. There is not really the equivalent aimed at men specifically (certainly not with the same gravitas and success).
But that’s where Peterson has come in. He doesn’t aim his advice and guidance at men specifically, but because his is one of the only mainstream voices in this area that isn’t for women but everyone – and so it has become popular with men.
Men and women are so different they need to hear from their own sometimes. Universal truths are gender neutral, but most of actual life’s truths are gender specific. In ‘Castle Keep’ some soldiers are discussing the men/women issue in a fox hole and one comes up with a great tautology. ‘Men and women can never get along as what they want is totally opposite from the other.’ ‘See, A Man wants a Woman, and a Woman wants a Man’,’totally opposite, they can never get along.’
But being in construction I know firsthand that women do not do construction, and men do. In all my years in the trades I have known 2 female carpenters, not that good ones, they worked for a Lesbian community. I do not know women masons, electricians, steel workers, roofers, siding installers, floor layers, and on and on. It is not just the physical strength, it is just what it is.
After I finished my architecture degree and worked on a construction site for a while to gain some practical knowledge and skills. I really enjoyed it and sometimes think I should have stuck with it. Now married to a builder (not the one I worked for ðŸ˜„) and I agree that I physically couldn’t do some of the work he does. I don’t know how easy he would find all the aspects of full time care of toddlers in return… maybe I’m doing him a disservice!
However, the fact that we have different strengths and weaknesses doesn’t mean we both can’t learn from JP… I just don’t see how the facts above means we can’t both benefit from keeping our ‘rooms’ tidy, or understanding how dominance hierarchies work.
Also a man wanting a woman and a woman wanting a man sounds like the basis of most romantic relationships which work! Both parties just have to learn to put the other first and then you will have harmony. Learn to communicate and work towards shared goals ie. Growing a family or business or whatever you want…
The anger and contempt direct at Peterson by the left is baffling, given that most of what he says is based on his clinical experience as a psychologist, mixed with some fairly astute observations about human nature.
The real reason for the hatred, I think, is that Peterson’s message seems to have been taken up by young men, offering them some emotional and psychological support.
This flies in the face of the feminist agenda, which is not just about helping women up, but is also about pushing men down, undermining them psychologically as a means of preventing them from forming a healthy self-concept. Boys are currently falling behind in school and most undergraduates are female. If the situation were reversed, what would feminists say? But it’s males who are in danger, so the problem is invisible.
This is the real purpose of claims about “toxic masculinity”, the end game of that particular meme being the inevitable claim that masculinity itself is toxic.
It’s difficult to imagine a more sexist claim.
Yes – I find it incomprehensible that to mention to most of my friends/relatives that I’ve merely listened to something of Peterson will bring forth the most incredible vitriol and even threaten our friendships. What Peterson is saying is truly the most benign time-tested unthreatening stuff, which no one would blink an eye at if the whole pronoun affair hadn’t happened and they weren’t told that he was White Fascist Male Evil incarnate.
I was about the say… the hatred directed towards him by the left is because he refused to be forced by law under threat of imprisonment to use someone’s preferred pronouns. He didn’t say he wouldn’t use someone’s prefered pronouns if asked politely…
Exactly Susie – I bang my head against a rock when people don’t seem to get this. I’m sure that any transsexual in Peterson’s classes would be treated absolutely impeccably and warmly, as long as they didn’t demand to be viewed as some ultimate and divine example of the incarnation of humanity.
Yeah… Feminists constantly rant about the evils of useless, entitled men. JP is constantly telling men to be less useless and entitled. You’d think there would be some common ground to be found there.
The problem with this idea is that just like black people in the USA who had the temerity to vote Republican were accused by the left of not being properly black, a female version of Jordan Peterson would be accused of not being a proper woman, as she wouldn’t constantly claim to be a victim.
that actually happens to conservative women all the time. One of the purposely non-reported stories of this election is the number of Repub women elected to the House of Representatives. Numerous incumbent Dems were swept out, many replaced by females. Apparently, it’s only a ‘year of the woman’ if one is the correct type of woman.
The messages Jordan Peterson delivers give hope to anyone, male or female, who lacks knowledge and/or reasoning to see more clearly a way of self improvement. If another JP came along, whether male or female, we’d have another sane, rational voice in the madness that seems to have taken over our western civilisation. The more JPs the better would be my view.
What we really need are advocates for motherhood and marriage that can speak in and through todays language. Most women know how to get on the career path. How many know how to find a suitable mate and how to “process” motherhood. 1 in 10? You would think the Church would have such leaders but they seem too timid or tainted by liberalism. When we say a female Jordan Peterson we mean a scientific modern woman who can sift though tradition and highlight the good and useful, without getting hung up the the past for the pasts sake.
You are right. This figure is missing on the scene. Do they exist?
There is a website that my daughters (both young mums) find inspiring, as I do..
The philosophy of motherhood, deep-thinking femininity
Let us know what you think.
I love this website! The writer often finds her themes in JPs work. Good suggestion!
“…living in a moral anarchy that has inevitably led to a stifling moral tyranny.” – pure genius, Ed.
This is a very good article. What younger generations lack is structure. As you say, too many choices, but worse, too many promises: you can be it all, you can have it all….. when you cannot and you probably will not.
Kids heads are full of social agendas and they have not been taught history or often, to read, write and spell properly. They live in a fluffy world of projected perfection which does not and will never exist on planet earth. They are protected from disappointment as children and given hopes, dreams and goals which are guaranteed to disappoint them as adults.
Little wonder they are confused. Peterson is valuable because he weaves psychology, philosophy,spirituality, mythology, sociology, anthropology and history together in clear and simple ways to form a more stable foundation. He doesn’t get it all right but no-one does and he does not have to. He just has to offer boundaries and structure which, too many lack in younger generations both from parents and from school.
Peterson is not specific to males and has as much to offer females as he does to his own sex. Wisdom is gender neutral.
I love this very sad article – I think you’re right.
My vote for Jordanette would be Camille Paglia (actually Peterson’s wonderful interview of her before he got famous was my intro to him, and her). She’s also recently been cancelled for all sorts of things, especially by feminists, of which she was a leading hero until the day before yesterday. However, she has no doubt “had her day” in Milllenial/Gen Z eyes, and a more youthful figure is needed to pull the young women in…. ..I look forward to others’ suggestions……
I am the female Jordan Peterson it’s so important to empower women but not to a point where women think they can live without a man!! Most of the time these so called feminist women are lesbians with their we can do without men RHETORIC!! With their toxic masculinity and hate of men!!! Men wearing WOMEN’S clothing and saying well Jesus wore a dress NO HE WORE DRESS LIKE CLOTHES FOR MEN SAME WITH KILTS!!
I don’t think you are the female JP. I don’t think he comes across as barking mad, for one thing.
I don’t think Julia’s “barking mad”. Yes, her comment is rather angry & unhewn, but there is quite a bit of the dialectic amongst the raw rhetoric.
When MacArthur was given total power over Japan post WWII he forced them to adopt a Constitution written in one Week by the Americans, (one of them a woman). (It is the longest duration now of any Constitution to never have been amended). He gave the vote to women, which scandalized the Japanese, but he insisted totally – he said women having the vote would stop the militarism which Japan has always been ruled by.
For sheer courage in the face of huge anxiety and adversity, along with a powerful dignity and boundless decency, I nominate Nadiya Hussain.
Why because women will never think they need someone to help them who will slap aside the bullshit and get to the gist of the matter.
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